i watched for years as my dad came home from work exhausted. drained. he hated his job. his job hated him, too, and made sure it sucked as much life from him each day as it could. my dad, when he's been away from work, on a day off, over the weekend, on a vacation...he has this smile, and this laugh, and it brightens your day. he has this energy that, for a guy that's 63 years old, is contagious. sort of comical. but mostly contagious. but not when work was sucking him dry. not when we had financial problems. not when he raised his fist and asked God, "why?"
i said to myself, don't ever let that happen to you. i developed a hard-headed optimism. i opted out of international business and got into teaching so i could have a job that would ensure i made a meaningful impact on people's lives every day. i vowed to live life to its fullest.
after time, one way or another, we learn about life, and living it to its fullest. we learn that sometimes the metaphors we most commonly use for life don't seem to adequately describe what we're going through...we move past life being like a box of chocolates, we're in too much turbulence to imagine taking a leisurely stroll and stumbling upon two roads diverged in a yellow wood. sometimes i imagine life is less like a journey down a highway, and more like a boxing match against a disproportionately large opponent. living life to its fullest sometimes means taking shots from life, ones we expect and ones we don't expect.
life can beat us up. sometimes it gives us a combo of hits that takes us down, and we'd like to just stay on the ground for a while. maybe we feel like we can't get up--the blows have knocked the wind out of us, and we're struggling to pull in breaths of air. maybe we're afraid to get back up, only to take another heavy shot.
for too long i watched life beat up on my dad. that's not even counting what he endured before i was even born.
i don't want to be that, i don't want to fall victim to the same bully that pushed my dad around. but when that left hook comes and rattles my rib cage, that uppercut connects with my jaw, words and thoughts and wishes and plans become dim...and i'm left not being able to see straight, fighting for breath, just trying to remember my name.
all the images evoked from all the fight-centered movies i've seen, the one with the protagonist on his knees, face swollen, blood dripping from the lip come to mind...and i have to say i don't know if my life is like those movies. i don't know if the inspirational music will begin to swell and my legs will find their strength again. i don't know when i'll catch my second wind and get that look of confidence back in my eyes.
my face is on the mat, my eyes are swollen shut, and my hands are crawling, reaching, waiting...waiting for the touch of the only one who can pull me back onto my feet. waiting for the only voice whose words will pierce through all this ringing in my head.
"arise, o Lord; save me, o my God!" ~psalm 3:7